I owe a £5,000 debt and I wished to make payment in the pettiest but legal way possible.

I would like to pay entirely in cash, I'm aware there is a previous case history in doing such a thing and I am aware there are rules regulating how many coins to value are legal tender.

I have prepared sorted piles of coins based on my basic understanding of what is legal tender:

  • 20 * 1p = 20p
  • 10 * 2p = 20p
  • 92 * 5p = £4.60
  • 50 * 10p = £5
  • 50 * 20p = £10
  • 20 * 50p = £10
  • 4970 * £1 = £4970

I believe at this point this would be an acceptable form of payment.

I mix all these coins into one massive sack.

I then fill the sack with an assortment of confetti.

Just as I prepare to take the sack to make payment, my child who I have been teaching the value of money tips in a till full of fake coins. I don't have time so I delivery the sack as payment as is.

Have I paid in a way in which the creditor cannot refuse payment? At what point are they justified in their refusal? Am I responsible for the sorting of coins? Am I liable for the cost of time involved in sorting?

Although I am looking for an answer in a British context I'm happy to hear how this may differ in other countries.

Clarification: This question is entirely hypothetical.

  • 3
    Related: Can you pay a restaurant bill in pennies?
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 5, 2019 at 17:39
  • 1
    @RonBeyer I am not from the UK, but in the US, it is mandatory that you be allowed to pay a debt in legal US tender.
    – Putvi
    Apr 5, 2019 at 17:48
  • 1
    Based on what though? Legal tender is called legal tender because the government has endorsed it. There is no law or case or any other reason why that would not be true.
    – Putvi
    Apr 5, 2019 at 17:59
  • 4
    I imagine having the confetti and fake coins is enough for them to refuse, claiming you are not offering money. In any case, remember that you likely also want a receipt of some kind stating your debt is satisfied in full. They could make you wait there the whole time as they sort the coins and if you left early, claim the amount was insufficient.
    – pboss3010
    Apr 5, 2019 at 18:28
  • 7
    Another possible reacion, the clerk could just look at the bag and say "there are only 4561.56 pounds here". And when you claim that there are 5000 pounds, the clerk points you to an empty table and say "stack them there to prove that my count is wrong".
    – SJuan76
    Apr 5, 2019 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


In English law, "legal tender" is effective in only one situation: the defence of "tender before claim".

In practice, in order to maintain such a defence, you must pay the money into court with a copy of the claim form and defence. See CPR37.2 and section 6 of the Courts Funds Rules 2011.

Unfortunately for you, the Court Funds Office expects to be paid by cheque, though the rules say that ordinarily a cheque or banker's draft is acceptable. See section 7 of the court funds rules. To pay in cash, you the Accountant General would have to direct otherwise.

There might be some exceptionally unlikely situation in which a court might accept a very awkward set of coins, but so unlikely is it as to be discounted.

The upshot of all this is that, although in theory one can offer to pay in legal tender as a defence to a claim in debt, in practice the rules for legal tender are irrelevant - the rules of the Court Funds Office are what prevail.


Your payment can be refused in

Nobody is obligated to take more than 50 coins in legal tender under MünzG §3, as I already elaborated here. The only custom that gets social pressure to accept such a payment is bridal shoes, which customarily are to be paid in small change as that is considered to bring good luck. Otherwise, nothing forces them to accept a pile of loose change.

Only the Bundesbank is required to accept any amount of coins, for the purpose to change them for others or bills of higher denomination.

Your split is not legal in

Your payment is to be £5000. That is more than £10. As such, any denomination smaller than £1 is not legal tender for that transaction. You have to pay with 5000 £1 coins to be on the legal side and have the most coins possible.

Padding the bags... in general

Adding confetti to "pad the bags" might be seen as an attempt to cover up missing coins. The presence of fake coins definitely crosses the bridge to fraud - the mere giving them away knowing they are fake is fraud.


As long as you pay them, they are paid.

  • 1
    I'm not sure that this is true. At least in the US it is not, private businesses can decline payment in certain forms (such as pennies, $100 bills, etc). You see it quite often here (a sign saying "$100 bills not accepted"), and many places of business have done away with cash entirely.
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 5, 2019 at 17:42
  • Opps, I meant to put my comment here. Legal tender must be accepted in the US and UK. @RonBeyer
    – Putvi
    Apr 5, 2019 at 17:50
  • My question is aimed more at the way in which the payment is delivered, the liability for sorting of the coins and the rights of the creditor to refuse me. If it's unclear I'm happy to take edit suggestions to clear things up.
    – Mark Berry
    Apr 5, 2019 at 18:03
  • I understand, and it is still true that as long as you pay them you payed off the debt even if you give them trouble. They are probably going to tell you to never come back though, so just as a friend, make sure its not a place you want to go again. lol
    – Putvi
    Apr 5, 2019 at 18:09
  • 2
    @Putvi yup, definitely missing the point. In the UK the 1p penny coin is legal tender. Simultaneusly, in the UK 1000 1 penny coins in a single transaction are not legal tender. In the UK "legal tender" includes quantity limits.
    – user4210
    Apr 6, 2019 at 21:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .